“France Doesn’t Play Around with Refugees which Sweden Does”

Rohullah fled from Afghanistan and is trying to start a new life in France.

– My dreams recently begin with a text message from the migration agency, saying that a letter has been sent to me. The feeling of happiness that I may have gotten my resident permit is beautiful!

It is Friday and I am sitting by the beach Kaananbadet in Stockholm, Sweden, talking on the phone with Rohullah in Paris, a good member of our alliance and an old friend. The last time I met him face to face was in September 2019, when he had recently left Sweden and arrived in Paris to apply for asylum.

I shared my hotel room with him because he didn’t know the city and had no place to stay for the night.  I was there to make a report about the asylum process and left Paris the next day. Eight months has passed and now he has started a new life, less stressful than the life he had in Sweden, as he puts it himself. 

Rohullah is one of the many young refugees who had to leave Sweden in 2019 after living here for four years and receiving several rejections from the Swedish migration board. 

– The first days in Paris were the worst, I felt lonely and sad with no money or hope for a better tomorrow, he says.

Rohullah stayed in Rosa park, where many of the newcomers and refugees camp, the first week or so. And then after a month of waiting for their turn to get registered, he finally got a place to stay and money to buy food and new clothes. 

– I am satisfied with my life, I don’t have much to be happy for, but at least I have a roof over my head and a full stomach, he adds.

He thinks the French government and society have been good to him so far, he doesn’t feel unwelcome by the neighbors and he has made new friends, among whom are his three roommates who are also from Afghanistan. 

After talking to Rohullah, I realized that he is happier now than the last time I saw him. Back then he was silent and sad. I could see in his eyes how lost he was, but now he is glowing with hope and excitement about his future. 

– Soon I will start working at a restaurant, it is a temporary job that I have gotten with help from the migration agency, but I am happy because my summer will be spent well and I will have a salary, he says.

According to Rohullah things are easier in France, you don’t have to wait too long for the migration agency to give you a response, and they don’t play around with you as they do here in Sweden. If your country is not safe, then you get to stay, otherwise you won’t. And now that Afghanistan is a war zone, the French migration agency understands and gives Afghans resident permits. 

Rohullahs worst fear, like many other refugees’, is not getting a resident permit, because then you will have to either leave France in order to start everything anew in a new country, or get deported. Otherwise he is living a fine life. Of course he has been waiting to get a response from the migration agency for seven months now, but he seems to be ok with it, since most of the Afghan refugees get a positive response. And while he is waiting, he focuses on learning the French language and knowing more about the laws and order in the country. 

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Faiaz Dowlatzai is a young author living in Sweden. He is the chairman of The Alliance of Unaccompanied minors in Sweden and works as teacher and student assistant at Vinsta Public School. 

To Faiaz fleeing his home country has meant fighting for his life and his future, defeating darkness and death, reaching the light. He says some will succeed, many will not. Faiaz is now writing on the second book in a triology about his and his siblings flight. The first book was published in 2019.

Faiaz Dowlatzai